Facing some of the toughest competition it’s seen this season, the Manhattan High boys’ tennis team finished in fourth place at the Centennial League tennis meet Monday afternoon.
Hayden successfully dethroned Washburn Rural, which had won the tournament 18 seasons in a row, by a narrow two-point margin, scoring 76 team points, with Rural scoring 74. Seaman took third with 72 points, while Manhattan scored 63 to finish ahead of Topeka High, which took fifth with 59.
“We finished in fourth, which we didn’t think was going to happen,” Manhattan head coach Joyce Allen said. “So we were really happy with that.
The doubles pair of Jonathan Turnley and Bryce Easton had the best day, matching their seed by taking second place after an 8-6 loss to top-seeded Matt Murray and Nathan Osborn of Washburn Rural in the doubles championship.
Turnley and Easton went 4-0 in pool play and defeated Seaman’s Mike Latendresse and Ryder Chaffee, 8-5, in the semifinals to make it to the championship match.
“I thought they had a really good day,” Allen said. “They beat a really good Seaman team in the semifinals, and the match against Rural was a really good match.”
The other doubles pair of Matt Turnley and Ben Turnley came in seeded 12th and finished 2-2 in pool play to advance to the bracket portion playing for ninth place. The pair defeated Emporia’s Ross Nail and Colby Ratzlaff, 8-2, before dropping their last match of the day to Emporia’s Ali Nasrazadani and Shane Vannocker, 8-3.
“It just wasn’t their day,” Allen said. “They never got going in their last match. It was just one of those days with lots of self-inflicted wounds with double faults and missed overheads. But they bettered their seed, so that was good, but if they’d have played as well as they did on Saturday, they could have finished higher.”
Manhattan’s Kirkland Lambert, who earned the No. 3 seed behind the Hayden’s Tommy and Blake Hunter, found himself in a tough match against sixth-seeded Todd Rilinger from Seaman, ultimately taking the loss, 8-5.
“Everything went wrong in that match for him,” Allen said. “He broke a string, he tripped on an overhead — it was kind of unfortunate for him.”
The upset meant a 3-1 pool-play finish for the sophomore and a best possible outcome of fifth place, which he took with an 8-3 win over Washburn Rural’s Tanner Driggers following an 8-2 win over Topeka High’s Matt Gonzales, which were both good for his regional seeding.
“It turned out to be really good for him, because he ended up playing Gonzales from Topeka High, which is good for regionals,” Allen said. “And he beat Rural again, which will help his seed. So even though, that’s not what he would have liked, it turned out really well for us.”
Camden Adams, who returned from an ankle injury that kept him on the sidelines over the weekend, came into the tournament seeded ninth but struggled through a tough draw in pool play, dropping each of the three matches he played. Adams received credit for a win in the form of a bye, which meant he would be playing for 13th place in the bracket.
Adams turned things around in bracket play, facing each of Junction City’s singles players and winning both, first an 8-6 win over Kyle Hand before an 8-3 win over Angeleau Scott to cap his day with a pair of wins.
“He’d beaten everybody else, so I couldn’t get him any lower,” Allen said of Adams’ pool placement. “And honestly, all we wanted to do was test his foot to see how it was going to do, and he won his last two matches, so that was good.”
Looking toward regionals on Saturday, Lambert will likely earn the top seed in singles and Jonathan Turnley and Easton will be in the mix for the No. 2 or No. 3 seeds in doubles.
“I think we’re set to go Saturday,” Allen said. “I think we’re ready.”